Tao Te Ching #57: “the people simplify themselves”

Use straightforwardness for civil government,
use surprise for military operations;
use noninvolvement to take the world.
How do I know this?
The more taboos there are in the world,
the poorer the populace is;
the more crafts the people have,
the more exotic things are produced;
the more laws are promulgated,
the greater the number of thieves.
Therefore the sage says,
I contrive nothing,
and the people are naturally civilized;
I am fond of tranquility,
and the people are naturally upright.
I have nothing to do,
and the people are naturally enriched;
I have no desire,
and the people are naturally simple.

– Thomas Cleary


Use directness to govern a country
and use deception to fight a war
but use nonaction to rule the world
how do we know this works
the greater the prohibitions
the poorer the people
the sharper their tools
the more chaotic the realm
the cleverer their schemes
the more common the bizarre
the better their possessions
the more numerous the thieves
thus does the sage declare
I make no effort
and the people transform themselves
I stay still
and the people correct themselves
I do no work
and the people enrich themselves
I want nothing
and the people simplify themselves

– Red Pine


Rule kingdoms by right;
Wage war be deceit;
To win the world forsake ambition;
How do I know that this is so?
The more thou-shalt-nots for the world,
The more the people are deprived.
The more devices that bring gain,
The more the clan and kingdom’s bane.
The more that clever crafts expand,
The more strange artefacts abound.
The more the laws and writs declared,
The more that crime and violence spread.
Hence the wise in rule have said,
“May we under-govern and
The ruled uplift themselves.
May we remain inactive and
The ruled right themselves.
May we forsake ambition and
The ruled enrich themselves.
May we have no more desire
And the ruled keep their simple ways.”

– Moss Roberts